Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Really Blogger, really? And I Hate Everything...

7,954 hours later, I finally found out that I now need to link to my blog through Google Chrome and not Internet Explorer.  
Also, while it said it was 40 degrees out yesterday, it was not a balmy 40 degrees.  It was a windy, icy rain type of 40 degrees which I found out after I headed out for a walk with Lucy.  And once you are out with a walk with Lucy, you don't turn back unless you want your leg chewed off.
And, I oven-dyed some roving yesterday, which turned out very cool and I would show you pictures, but I didn't take any pictures because of--see above--I couldn't figure out how to post things any more and was going to give up this stupid attempt at blogging.
But the roving turned out really nice and wait until you see the colors--Rasberry, Lemon Drop and Island Blue. Let's just say you won't need your glasses on to see it, as my grandmother used to say.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Not sure what is going on with blogger.  Every time I try to write a post I get about half-way through and then everything freezes up and I have to delete the whole post and start over again.  Some strange version of blogger hell.  
I've spent countless hours trying to fix things and I guess I will just have to wait until things work themselves out.
Please talk among yourselves until things get up and running again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Expect Good Things

I won't lie.  The past couple years have been....well.....difficult.   An extremely stressful job combinded with chronic pain issues resulted in the decision to take an early retirement.  That decision resulted in having to sell the house in a short sale--which, by the way has to be the most frustrating and degrading process I have ever been through--which meant cleaning out, packing and moving. 
So in the past two years I've hit several major stressers in life.
I won't lie.  It has been a pretty rocky road, however, the house is gone, we've moved up north and I'm working with a new pain doctor.  So, while I'm still recovering, I am able to look at things in life with a little brighter outlook and with a bit more hope for the future.
Well, that was a very long introduction to the rug I finished right before Christmas. It is called "Expect Good Things" and the pattern is by Brenda Beerhorst.  I first saw this pattern on Brenda's website, Kinship in Wool and Color, and fell in love with it.  I loved the sweet little birds and I expecially loved the message--that good things--small or large--will always come your way. 
Anyway, a few years back I started working on this rug.  My first decision--should I make the birds robins or blue birds?  I love robins.  They are the first sign of spring and they are always a most welcome sight after our long, grey winters. But blue birds.....well really....who can resist blue birds.  Certainly not me!  And so blue birds it was.

Next, came the color selection.  I have no art background, so while I am doing my best to learn more about color theory, I pretty much have to fly by the seat of my pants in this area.  I did know I wanted my birds to have a more turquoise feel to them rather than a baby blue.  So I picked out a piece of over-dyed wool in a light aqua and found a lovely piece of a very dark turqoise that I used for an accent color throughout the rug. 
Now for the other colors.  I'm trying really hard to be bolder in my color selection.  Because I'm not sure of myself, I tend to pick more boring muted colors and, as a result I feel that my rugs were looking bland and muddy.  I was determined that was not going to happen this time.  I knew that to really make things pop you should use a color's complement--in this case the complementary color to blue is orange.  Hmmm.....orange.  Not my favorite color, but I found some orangey-red wools that I really liked and went for it.

I found and dyed some wools for the leaves in a range of green/blues.  And my background wool was this really neat brown/black plaid with small strips of blue running through it.  It was perfect in that it just tied everything together.

As I said, I've worked on this rug for the past few years.  Sometimes I was possessed and worked on it every waking minute.  Sometimes life just got in the way and it sat neglected in the corner of the living room.  When we were selling the house and moving, it had to be packed away and I couldn't even think about it.  I worked on it when I was happy and when I was sad and depressed.  I worked on it when was in pain.  I guess, you could say that there is a lot of my life hooked into this rug. 
Right now it is hanging on the wall in my living room.  I love the bright, rich colors, especially in the midst of our grey Michigan winter. I love the sweet little birds. And, most of all,  I love its hopeful and warm message.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dyeing Roving: The So-Not-A-Tutorial; Part 2

Alrighty then.  We've put the dye on the roving and now we need to put heat on it to set the dye.  Today I'm going to try steaming it in a pot on the stove. 
Take the plastic wrap and bring both sides up over the roving, scrunching the two sides to make a seam down the middle.  Then wrap that baby up just like a little burrito.
I know....it looks a little gross at this point, but hang in there....it all works out in the end.
I used a large roasting pan.  To keep the roving out of the water, I placed a small colendar in the bottom of the pan.  You could also use a steamer or even bend a wire clothes hanger to hold the roving.  I added just enough water to the pan to barely touch the bottom of the colander.
I placed the roving in the pan and covered the pot with a lid.
Then I brought the water to a slow boil and let the steam penetrate the roving.  I let it steam for about 30 minutes.  At the end of the 30 minutes,  I turned off the heat and let the roving cool to room temperature.  When it is cool, I rinsed the roving in room temperature water until the water ran clear.  Remember to handle the fiber gently so that is doesn't felt.
At this point, I remove the excess water by givng a spin in the washing machine.  Just set it on the last spin cycle.  Don't take through a whole wash.
Now I let it dry and voila.....
Here it is drying and this is what it looks like once I braided it....

And here it is spun.....
So what did I learn?  First, I would use fewer colors--maybe three-- and I would leave some white space in between the dyed areas.  This would let the dyes run into each other.  I also need to learn more about how to measure dye and how to control the intensity of the color.  This turned out darker than I have envisioned.  But all in all not too bad for a first attempt. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dyeing Roving: The So-Not-A Tutorial

As I said, I've been hankering to learn to dye roving and yarn.  I already have my fingers in the dye pot as far as wool fabric is concerned and feel pretty comfortable with that, however, the technique for yarn and roving dyeing is just a bit different. 
So I have been watching YouTube videos, reading tutorials online and consulting books and, without further ado.....I give you my first attempt!
Oh, and I apologize in advance for the crummy pictures.  We have a dark kitchen and when you factor in a bad camera with my even worse photography skills......well you do the math.
First I gathered together all my supplies.
I used ProChem dyes because that's what I use to dye wool for my rug hooking and have it on hand.  I also needed a glass measuring cup, vineger, plastic squeeze bottle and an old chopstick for stirring and poking things down.  In addition, I needed old newspapers, plastic wrap, a colander, plastic glover and a big enamel pot.
First, I soaked the roving.  I added a bit of Jet Dry to the water so the wool would absorb the water quickly.

I know, it looks like one of those Halloween party things where you have to stick your hands into a pan full of guts.  Or maybe that's just the kind of Halloween parties I get asked to.  Never mind.
While the wool was soaking I put newpaper over the kitchen counters and then plastic wrap over that.  I put two long strips of plastic wrap down and then pinched them together to made a long seam in the middle.  This will all become important later on in the process.
Next I gently took the wool from the pan and gently squeezed the water out.  Gently, gently, gently.  Handling the wool roughly will cause it to felt and we don't want that.

I laid out the wool folding it back and forth so it all fit on the saran wrap.  Now for the fun part.....
Adding the color!  I chose four colors:  Evergreen, Teal, Plum and Bright Orange.  Although it doesn't look like it in this picture, I added a toothpick tip of Brillant Blue to the Orange to tone it down a bit and make it a more of a rust color.  I won't go into how I measured the dye and mixed it because I am learning some new ways to do that and will write about that in another post. 
Anyway, I carefully poured the dye into the squeeze bottles, which I bought at Walmart in the section where they had the small kitchen items.  Only 97 cents each! 
Then I squeezed the dye on the roving in wide strips.  Wearing plastic gloves, I made sure that I gently worked the dye into the fibers all the way through.  Remember....gently....see above.
What comes next?  I'll post that tomorrow!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Who Let the Dogs Out

As I've mentioned, we a fortunate to live on a small cove that is part of a larger lake.  The lake is a big all-sports lake, but our cove is small and cozy.  The lots are tiny and most of the house are remodeled cabins.  Everyone knows everyone else and, all in all, it is a really nice place to live.
So, as it happens in life, our neighbor passed away a few years ago and her house has been empty since that time.  And, because, let's face it....this is pretty much all about us all the time,  we've spent that time worrying about what will happen to the house.  Because, like I said, things are close around here.  It's kind of like living in a dorm, but with water in front of you.
Anyway, this past summer our neighbor's daughter decided to move back with her boyfriend and their three--yes count them--three dogs.
Now, don't get me wrong.  I like dogs.  I have a dog.  But I like dogs who are well-cared for and whose owners have a healthy respect for their dog's place in the world.  And I knew I wasn't going to find that here when I met Mr. Boyfriend and he proudly announced that one of the dogs was a pit bull that he used to fight. 
What the hell?  Who does stuff like that?  And who feels that this is something that you proudly announce to neighbors that your just met? 
Of course, this sets me into overdrive.  I call animal control and they tell me that they really can't do anything based on something that someone told me.  They need physical proof that the dog is being mistreated. 
That's where we are right now.  As I talk more to Mr. Boyfriend (and yes I am talking to him because I am gathering information and will be ready to squash him once I have proof.) I'm seeing more and more that he is one of those men who has to blow up everything he has/does to make you think he is really hot stuff.  And he's not too bright.  And he's an ass.  And he keeps telling me that his dog hates other dogs and will kill another dog if it has a chance. 
Really, Mr. White-Trash Boyfriend?  Really?
So I'm in high alert.  And I'm watching my dog very, very carefully.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dying to Dye

One of the things I love about rug hooking is dying my own wool.  So I guess it is not too much of a surprise that once I starting spinning that I would would be equally obsessed with dying yarn and roving.  I know....just what I need is another interest to pursue.  I don't know what to say...I seem to be powerless over my lack of focus.Anyway, I ordered this:
Oh wait....someone (Lucy) tore my brand new book apart (Lucy) because someone (Lucy) couldn't go for a ride in the car with us (Lucy).  So not to mention any names, but someone in this household now has to spend her alone time in the house confined to the front porch.
Okay, I ordered this book and this DVD...
 I just started watching the DVD and it looks like it will be a good resource.  What I find interesting so far is that she uses the metric system for measuring and that she weighs her dye rather that measuring things out with a spoon.  That way, because all dyes have different weights, you end up getting the same saturation of dye in your dye solutions.  Or I think that was the reasoning.  My mind tends to wander during any kind of technical type of talk.  So I ran out and bought a kitchen scale and will be trying the whole weighing thing soon.
I did try dying some roving using a combination of information from You Tube videos and my book.  And let me just say that yarn-and-roving-dying people are so much more laid back than rug hooking-wool- dying people. 
In rug hooking, everyone is using 20 different dye colors, Grey measuring spoons and worrying about actually how far do they dip the toothpick in the dye--and is it a wet or dry tooth pick?  And what about the minerals in the water and, you know, the humidity can affect your dying also.
Yarn dyers, on the other hand, just seem to use the colors that ProChem seemed fit to give them STRAIGHT FROM THE JAR.  They dump the dye in the pot and start dying yarn.
Pretty refreshing if you ask me.
Well, I could write more, but the one who really runs this household is telling me that I've spent my hour on the computer and that I should be spending my time time taking her for a walk.
And seriously....who could resit this?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Peace Out 2011

New year.....New blog.  I'm not sure why, seeing that I have a perfectly good blog that I already don't post on, but there you go.  Actually it's a very good indicator of my personality...good at starting; not so good at finishing. 
But it is a new year and I do feel the need to start this blogging thing all over.  For whatever reason, my last blog came to represent to me performance rather than a place where I could document things I was learning and a place to reflect about life a little bit.   And let's face it, during the last two years life was, in many respects not-so-good and I never felt that I could be honest about those type of things.

So here I sit, starting off the new year...warm in our little house on our little cove.....looking out at the snow. 
Both kitties are curled up next to me; Moses on the back of the chair and Jasperkitty vying for a spot on my lap....doing his best to push this pesky laptop off to the floor so he can claim his rightful place. 
Lucy is snoozing on the sofa.
The little corner of the rug you can see behind Lucy is my "Expect Good Things" rug.  (Pattern by Brenda Beerhorst) 
And while I don't want this blog to be about finishing things.....I did finish this rug and really hope that this year my life will be about expecting and cherishing the good in my life.